Ernest Crosby (1885 - 1918)
Ernest moved to East Bergholt with his young family in April 1911. He spent most of his service in the UK before being sent to Russia at the end of October 1918. Ernest died there less than a week later, leaving a wife and daughters.
- Died in the Great War
- 51.975496, 1.053849
|Ernest Leonard Crosby
|2 /7th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
|Date of Death:
|29th October 1918
|Row C, Grave 6 (Joint Grave), Archangel Allied Cemetery, Archangel, Russia
Family Background and Early Life
Ernest Crosby was born in Beaumont, Essex on 6 June 1885, one of at least 9 children from the marriage of Robert and Angelina Crosby. Robert Crosby from Dovercourt, had married Angelina – or Lina as she was often called – in 1872.
Initially Robert and Lina lived in Dovercourt where at least two of their children were born, but they moved to Beaumont in the late 1870s. Robert seems to have had a variety of jobs: On the Registration entry for Ernest’s birth, Robert’s occupation was given as Dealer. At various times he was also a Market Gardener, and a Bricklayer’s Labourer.
After he left school, Ernest became a cattle stockman on a farm for a time, and later worked in a sawmill.
Robert and Lina emigrated to Canada in 1907, where they settled in Wycliffe, British Columbia, and many of their younger children made the move with them.
There is some evidence to suggest that Ernest may have gone out to Canada with his parents for a time, but certainly by January 1909 he was living in Beaumont.
On 20 January 1909, Robert married 27 year old Maude Emma Carter at the Register Office in Ipswich. Emma had been born in Great Oakley, but by 1901 her family had moved to Beaumont so it is likely that she and Ernest had known each other for some years.
Emma had been living in Ipswich since 1905, and brought 2 young daughters to the marriage. 1 At the time of her marriage to Ernest, Emma gave her address as Springfield Lane, Ipswich. Ernest and Emma’s first daughter who they named Ruby May was born in Ipswich in May 1910, possibly on Woodbridge Road as we know the family were living there at the time of the April 1911 Census.
Later that same month, the Crosby family moved to Edward Lodge, at the bottom of the Mile Straight near “The Dickie”. For a time, Ernest was employed as a Factory Hand, possibly at the Xylonite Works at Cattawade.
Ernest and Emma’s second daughter, Olive Miriam was born in April of 1915.
Ernest was conscripted into the British Army at the end of June 1916. His surviving Service Papers state that he was 5 foot 8 inches in height, and that his occupation at this time was a Poultry and Pig Dealer and Rearer.
Ernest was initially posted to the 2nd/5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment for his Basic Training, and later to the 24th Battalion. By June 1917, he had been transferred again, this time to the 18th Battalion (Territorial Force) of the Yorkshire Regiment. 2 The Territorial Force – the forerunner of the modern Territorial Army – had initially been intended for home service only.
A possible reason for these transfers could lie in the fact that Ernest does not appear to have been in the best of health. Following his medical examination when he was first called up, he had been classified as B1, meaning that he was not fit for General Service, but was fit enough for Garrison Duty Abroad.
In June 1917, a Captain wrote a note to one of Ernest’s officers, stating that Ernest “appears to be physically unfit for bayonet or any fast work. He complains of heart trouble.”
Ernest remained in the U.K. until the closing days of the War. At the end of September he was transferred to the 2/7th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. This was a second line Territorial Force battalion, and had been based in the UK throughout the war, however it had been selected to form part of the Allied expedition to Russia.
In 1918, following the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, and the subsequent peace treaty between that nation and Germany, the British and French governments decided on military intervention.
The aims of the Allied expedition were to prevent the capture of Allied material that was stockpiled in the Russian arctic port of Archangel, by either the Germans or the Bolsheviks, and to assist local forces to defeat the Bolsheviks, and then resurrect the Eastern Front against Germany.
Ernest sailed from Glasgow with the Battalion on 6th October 1918, and disembarked at Archangel on the 23rd of that month. The Battalion were intended for garrison duties.
Less than a week later, on 29th October 1918, Ernest died, almost certainly from influenza. He was 33 years old. 3 This was the height of the Spanish Flu Pandemic, which killed far more people than the Great War. It has been written that most of the Battalion’s deaths in Russia were as a result of influenza or pneumonia, so given that Ernest did not die of wounds it is very likely that he was one of the millions of victims of the Spanish Flu.
Ernest was buried in the British military cemetery in Archangel, which is now called the Archangel Allied Cemetery.
At some time between June 1916 and October 1919, Emma left East Bergholt and moved with her daughters to Clacton.
Copyright © Mark Ashmore, 2024
- Died in the Great War
- 51.975496, 1.053849
- 1At the time of her marriage to Ernest, Emma gave her address as Springfield Lane, Ipswich.
- 2The Territorial Force – the forerunner of the modern Territorial Army – had initially been intended for home service only.
- 3This was the height of the Spanish Flu Pandemic, which killed far more people than the Great War. It has been written that most of the Battalion’s deaths in Russia were as a result of influenza or pneumonia, so given that Ernest did not die of wounds it is very likely that he was one of the millions of victims of the Spanish Flu.